[aDoBJG] E - J 💮 A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

E - J

A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar :white_flower: Home Thread

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#7 May 6th へ(e) to 〜はじめる 7 116 - 133 18
#8 May 13th はず to 一番 7 133 - 149 17
#9 May 20th 行く1 to 自分2 7 149 - 163 15

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Well, I’ll go ahead and break this thread open. ^^

へ: The only thing new to me was under related expression II. Where it talked about replacing に4 (direct contact meaning into ; onto). Overall I can’t remember seeing へ much except for the expression with ようこそ, so definitely not seen that use (or glossed over it so hard, entirely possible).

が1 (subject marker): I was happy to read through the entry and not find anything new. Just stuff I knew. Considering how weird this one is to initially learn that was very nice. (Although honestly, I think some of the hard stuff in learning it early on is that が and は are often initially taught as basically interchangeable. :woman_facepalming: )


I see that ga_1 casually introduces the concept of a “transitive adjective” :slight_smile:


At first I was like “huh that’s odd; surely it’s very common?” but I did a search for へ in my Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling translations, and only 18 uses came up in the 2023 document (which is currently about 42,000 words in English, so it’s a fair amount of text…), so you seem to be right about its relative rarity! Maybe pro wrestling just isn’t conducive to the common uses, though, haha. It does get used when people talk about, like, going to America and that sort of thing.

Interestingly, several of the uses were in the parentheticals used by the shupro transcribers to briefly describe what was happening around the dialogue. I sort of loosely translate these, haha (I’ll describe what’s happening onscreen in my own words if the way it’s described in Japanese feels strange in English).

Here's an example from TJPW's 2023.04.22 show, after Pom Harajuku and Max The Impaler lost their tag team title shot:

Here’s the video so that you can see the actions described around the dialogue below. As usual, the transcript is from shupro, and the translation is mine and might contain errors.

ぽむ「(号泣しながら)負けちゃった…、ごめんね…。(インペイラーがぽむの涙を拭く仕草)最強の味方がいてくれたんですけど、負けちゃった…。でもね、なんかホントに対戦相手も怖かったしアレだけど、うちらずっと、ベストタッグフォーエバーだよね? これからも(インペイラーは唸り、ぽむと一緒に控室へ)」

Pom: (crying loudly) “I lost… I’m sorry…” (The Impaler wipes away Pom’s tears) “Even though I had the strongest ally on my side, I lost… But, hey, our opponents were really scary, but we’ll always be” (in English) “the best tag team forever,” (in Japanese) “right? From now on.” (The Impaler growls and goes backstage with Pom)

It’s an incomplete sentence, which is interesting to me. I guess the へ conveys enough information that you can sort of fill in the rest of the sentence without needing a verb.

に is probably the most confusing particle to me, just in terms of how often I get it wrong, and the note here about how native speakers occasionally use に and へ interchangeably is one of the things that makes it tricky for me, haha :sweat_smile:!


が and は have never really caused me as much trouble as they seem to cause other learners (に on the other hand…), though I do mess them up occasionally when producing Japanese if I don’t think it through well enough.

Note 5, which states that in relative clauses, the subject may be marked with の, is something that did trip me up for a while as a beginner. I had a bit of trouble making sense of those sentences until I just learned to accept that this happens, haha.

Haha, yeah I was reading note 7 and nodding along as it summed up the important rules, and then I got to (E) and was like “wait, hold up, transitive adjective or stative transitive verb?” :sweat_smile:. From the example given above, I think I know what they mean by that, but I feel like the concept of a “transitive adjective” would be fighting words in some communities…

Hey, look at that! I’m actually caught up for once! Let’s see how long it lasts…


Yeah, my brain isn’t working well today, so I’m ignoring that.



Note 1’s point about how が is weaker than “but” in that it is sometimes used simply to combine two sentences for stylistic reasons even if those two sentences do not represent contrastive ideas was interesting to me because I’ve definitely seen that loads of times, but I’d never thought about it quite like that, as it being “weaker”.

From my experience (while translating pro wrestling), a lot of the words for “but” aren’t necessarily used like that in all circumstances. Sometimes they’re just a way to transition to another thought even if that next thought isn’t really contrastive.

I thought the point under [Related Expressions] about how だが, だけど, でも, and しかし can’t make compound sentences like が does and must occur at the beginning of the sentence was interesting. I guess there’s one clue for telling apart one use of でも, haha. Though I’m almost certain I’ve seen this sense of it used mid-sentence before in my translations… But that’s probably due to the fact that human speech doesn’t tend to be super grammatically perfect, and real people start and stop their sentences in the middle and abruptly start a new one all the time.

I’m not going to look for any が examples just because there are simply way too many to choose from, haha (there are 1090 instances of が in just one of my documents alone), so I don’t want to sift through it trying to find anything that might be particularly worth sharing.


I think if I were to caricature my experience helping you with those, too, it would be me muttering to myself “it’s the flow of the rhetoric! They’re building a train of thought!!” while trying to decide if a particular use of “but” is worth complaining about… :sweat_smile:


I found this point interesting too. Although for me, it was because I couldn’t remember seeing that. Although I probably have a couple of times, but not in a strong enough context that I’ve gone “that can’t mean ‘but’, can it?”. So I look forward to seeing this in the wild! :muscle:


Oh, maybe I should try to look for an example after all, then! I feel like it’s honestly super common in real speech, haha (or at least as far as you can count wrestlers’ speech as “real speech”…). Like rodan said, this comes up repeatedly in my translations, and they’ve had to tell me multiple times to get rid of “but” in my sentences ahaha :sweat_smile:.

I’ll try to keep an eye out for it, maybe when I have a bit less on my plate, and see if a particularly good example comes up.


It’s a little tough to find an out and out example, since it is possible in English to trail off after a “but” or go with a “but, anyway…” and I feel like that at least mostly fits how this kind of が works in speech (based on all those promos). And plus it’s easy to feel like since generally the が is probably contrasting something even if it isn’t the following clause, “but” feels like it fits fine.

but I was curious to find back-up for my feeling like this comes up a lot, and I found one probably good example from October 2022, which I mention partly because @fallynleaf I failed to catch something at the time! the transcript originally had 緩急 below, but 感泣 surely makes far more sense in context…

I’m going mainly off of the video, but
(Frankenstein transcript partly from fallynleaf’s translation, partly the transcript it was based off of, partly me summarizing)

(Note on why 声 would be やっぱり a source of emotion here – this would have been one of the first handful of shows where crowd cheering was allowed following the pandemic)

Q: (It’s unusual for you to be unable to stop laughing after a title match. How were you feeling?)
A: なんか…勝負の中での感泣もあると思うんです、やっぱり試合中に聞こえるんですよね。皆の声あと対戦相手の声が。[from there she goes on to talk about how the match made her feel and why that expressed as laughter]

In the bolded が, the clauses before and after definitely don’t contrast with each other. If anything the が is lightly contrasting with the interviewer’s suggestion that her laughing uncontrollably in the match was unusual (by providing an example of other uncontrollable emotion she’s certainly experienced from matches).
But in the transcript, which cleans things up to be readable straight through to a native audience, it’s reproduced as is, with a comma as the only pause. And in the video she does pause, but I wouldn’t call it trailing off or breaking off exactly, she’s just finding the words.

If I tried to express it the same way in English, the closest way I can get is roughly:
”I mean, I believe I’ve cried in matches before, but… Of course what it was is I could hear them: the audience’s voice, and my opponent’s voice”
Without the trail off and restating the subject in the second clause, it definitely doesn’t work:
* “I’ve cried in matches before, but I could hear everyone’s voices”
and she’s also not saying:
“I’ve cried in matches before, but in contrast to those times, this time I could hear everyone’s voices”

The examples the dictionary gives are a lot more quick and simple and it would be harder to track down examples like that but they do feel familiar too. I feel like “but” feels somehow like…
~kachunk~ ↔ ~kachunk~… X but Y
whereas が is often more like… rhetorical pepper? Sprinkled in there like XがY just because I want to soften the assertiveness of X a little.
The impression I get is it’s one of those small things that ends up coloring a lot of how it makes sense to express certain trains of thoughts in either language. In that kind of way that’s hard to notice until trying to translate between them.

I suppose the difference in this specific example is just that when speaking and putting thoughts together,
“I’ve cried in matches が” can mean perfectly well she’s done talking about that, it was just contrast-tinged background for the main point she’s building.
“I’ve cried in matches but” would probably mean she’s going to talk more directly along those lines, like “… this was different” or something. Unless she trails off and actively switches gears.


“a disjunctive coordinate conjunction that combines two sentences”
Ah yes, I’ve definitely slept enough to understand these words put together in this exact order.
This is definitely what I want right after knowing perfectly well what “transitive adjectives” and “stative transitive verbs” are.


I think this is how it breaks down:

disjunctive = word that serves to express opposition or contrast (like “but”)
coordinate = word that connects words, phrases, and clauses that are coordinate, or equal to each other (like “for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so”)
conjunction = word or group of words that joins together words, groups, or clauses

So, putting that together: が is a word that joins together two sentences that are on the same level of importance in a way that expresses opposition or contrast.

I think by “transitive adjective”, they mean words like 欲しい (example 6. a.), which is grammatically an adjective, but which has an object (in English, at least. Not going to get into the transitive/intransitive in Japanese argument haha), which is the thing that is wanted. That “direct object” works as a subject in Japanese, hence being marked with が.

By “stative transitive verb”, I think they’re referring to words like 分かる (example 6. b.), which is a transitive verb in English, and which expresses a state (of understanding). Here again, the “direct object”, the thing that is understood, works as a subject in Japanese, and is marked with が.

I think, at least :sweat_smile:.



I don’t think I’ve learned this one yet in any of my textbooks, though I feel like I’ve definitely seen it before in the wild, haha.

I wish I’d read it slightly earlier, because it actually answered a question I had while trying to compose a tweet in Japanese earlier today. In note 1, it mentions that if an adjective appears in an embedded clause, the がる attachment is unnecessary even if the tense is nonpast and the subject is a person with whom the speaker cannot empathize.

I’d wondered that when trying to use ~たい (with a subject that was not me) in a relative clause earlier, because I couldn’t remember if I was allowed to use it just like that or not, haha. Thankfully it looks like I did it right! The tweet was expressing my opinion on something that was very topical and a bit controversial, so I didn’t want to wait to post it.

Also, look, it’s our good friend the “transitive adjective” 欲しい! Note 1. (2) b. even gives us an example where the direct object actually takes the を particle instead of が.


Here is my cross reference with Bunpro. Once again, please let me know if I have connected the wrong grammar points.

I’ve seen the sentiment in the previous thread that maybe the Basic Dictionary is a bit too old to be a useful reference. Maybe having a more recent (?) option to contrast it with could appeal to some people. Keep in mind though that Bunpro itself uses the Basic Dictionary as a reference, so in the end it could all just be old information passed off as recent.

へ(e) to 〜はじめる
aDoBJG Bunpro
が² が (but)
がる がる
ごろ ごろ
ごとに (ごと)
はじめる (はじ)める
はず to 一番
行く1 to 自分2
aDoBJG Bunpro - -
行く¹ へ行く
行く² ~ていく
いる¹ ()
いる² ~ている ① ~ている ② ~ている ③
いる³ (???)
自分(じぶん)¹ (???)
自分(じぶん)² (???)

I think that for almost everything it’s still fine – it’s only where you get into frequency of use of stuff in more casual speech where pace of change is faster that it might be a bit behind the times. Even there it doesn’t feel like a big deal to me – if something like だい is rarely used nowadays then it just won’t come up and be reinforced in what you hear, so it remains “I theoretically know what this means if I run into it” rather than “I use this in speaking”.


Hehe, fun comment, I thought exactly the opposite when I came across this entry! I have learned about it in Genki but haven’t seen it used yet (or haven’t noticed)
It’s nice with such a big reading groups that there are so many different profiles, makes for interesting discussions :slight_smile:


It comes up a ton in books and manga, especially stuff like “怖がる” I’ve seen a lot. Always thought they were just different words, nice to know that they are not.


Yeah, I’m almost certain I’ve Yomichan’d it before without paying it much more thought, haha. That’s my first exposure to a lot of new grammar points that I encounter in the wild.

Yeah, it’s fun to see how things that feel very common to you aren’t necessarily such fixtures in everyone else’s experience, haha! I know my own exposure to most of this is coming at it in such a strange direction compared to where everyone else is coming from.

I love to see people pull all kinds of different examples, and fixate on different elements of the dictionary that I might have just glossed over myself. For me personally, I find that I learn the most either when helping explain something to someone else, or when I’m getting corrected by someone else, and this club offers plenty of opportunity for both!


This was exactly the link I needed to understand the difference between ごとに and おきに. Reading this entry of the dictionary just left me with a huge “??” in my mind, but I guess it’s just the way they explained it (which somehow just clicked for me when I checked Bunpro).


In support of the “younger native speakers may not make this distinction” note in bunpro, NHK did an interesting little survey on this in 2007 where they asked “if there’s a ferry on the 9th of the month, and ferries are 1日おきに, then when’s the next ferry?”. The traditional answer (i.e. the one that matches the dictionary explanation) is “on the 11th”, and that’s definitely still the overwhelmingly common reply, but the younger you are the more likely you are to answer “on the 10th”. Now, even in the youngest age group 80% of respondents still picked the traditional definition, but it does hint that maybe in future this usage may fall out of favour for being ambiguous. (There are phrases in English, like “Thursday next”, that started with a precise meaning but are no longer clear to all English speakers because the “obvious guess” is not the traditional meaning.) It would be interesting to see the results 15 years on and whether the trend has continued.